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Surprising Fun Facts About 'The Golden Girls'

Margaret Minnicks has been an online writer for many years. She writes about various topics including celebrities and entertainment.


The Golden Girls is a sitcom that originally aired on NBC for seven seasons over 180 half-hour episodes from September 14, 1985 to May 9, 1992. The theme song was “Thank You for Being a Friend.” The Golden Girls was so popular that 27.2 million viewers watched the series finale. That was long ago, but the comedy can still be viewed through syndicated reruns.

The series won the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Comedy Series not once, but twice. It also won three Golden Globe Awards for Best Television Series, Musical or Comedy.

All four of the well-known celebrity women received an Emmy Award. It was one of only three sitcoms in the award's history to achieve that honor. The Golden Girls was among the top 10 of the Nielsen rankings for the first six seasons. It slipped to number 30 in its seventh and final season.

An episode was only half an hour, but the women admitted it took them nine hours to rehearse an episode.

The Four Women

The series focused on four older women included Blanche Devereaux, played by Rue McClanahan, Rose Nylund, played by Betty White, Dorothy Zbornak, played by Bea Arthur and Sophia Petrillo, played by Estelle Getty.

On the show, the women got along well and their chemistry was quite obvious. Some of the stars worked together before appearing together in the hit comedy series. Arthur and McClanahan were friends on Maude. White and McClanahan worked together on Mama's Family.

McClanahan got along well with Arthur on the show, but in real life, they weren't very close. In an interview with the Archive of American Television, McClanahan described Arthur as "a very, very eccentric woman."

Many controversial topics took place during the time the show was on the air. The subjects included teen pregnancy, AIDS, and gay marriage. There was a two-part episode based on the creator's real-life struggle with chronic fatigue syndrome that affects many people.

The House

Most of the scenes took place in a small house owned by Blanche. Even though the official address was 6151 Richmond Street in Miami, Florida, the original exterior shots of Blanche's house were of a house located at 245 North Saltair Avenue in Los Angeles, California.

The 2901-square-foot house with four bedrooms and four bathrooms is still there. It is valued at a little over $3 million. To keep people away, the house is now surrounded by high walls and trees.

Rose responded to an ad on the bulletin board of a local grocery store to rent from Blanche. Divorcée Dorothy also responded to the same ad. Dorothy took her 80-year-old mother, Sophia, with her after the retirement house where she had been living in burned down. That's how the four women met and started living together.

In the final episode, Dorothy got married and moved away from the house.


The Kitchen Table

Through conversations among the women, viewers learned a lot about their backgrounds before they began to live together in the same house. Most of those conversations took place while preparing food and eating around the kitchen table. Viewers pointed out that there were only three chairs available. That was because of limited filming space and to avoid having one person's back to the camera. Bea was always in the middle chair because of her height and for her facial expressions to be captured. When all four characters had to be in the kitchen, a tall stool was placed beside the table. In the above photo, Sophia is sitting on a stool. Over 100 cheesecakes were consumed around that table. Bea confessed that she didn't even like cheesecake.

A butler had a role on the show, but he lasted only one episode because it was decided that he wasn't needed after all. In fact, he would have been a distraction for the women to have him around.


Rue McClanahan

Rue McClanahan's real name was Eddi-Rue McClanahan. The women dressed up in fancy clothes and jewelry all the time, even when they were just sitting around talking. All of them were fashionable, but Rue was the most fashionable. She even wore jewelry with her nightclothes. The clothes were so elegant that McClanahan had a clause in her contract for her to keep all her custom-made outfits. She reportedly had 13 closets full of designer clothes when the show ended.

She was portrayed as man-crazed, and she had a lot of men in her life. Rue McClanahan died at 76 in 2010 from a stroke.


Betty White

In real life, Betty White was the oldest of the women. She played her part very well even though it was not the first choice for her.

McClanahan's role as Blanche was first offered to White, but eventually, White was given the part of Rose. In other words, McClanahan and White switched the roles that were eventually earmarked for them.

White was a seasoned actress and comedian. She had the honor of having the longest television career of any entertainer with over 80 years in show business.

Betty White was the last Golden Girls to die on December 31, 2021 at the age of 99. She would have turned 100 years old on January 17, 2022. Several tributes were done in her honor on that day. There was a marathon of The Golden Girls episodes. Since she was an avid game show contestant, the Game Show Channel aired episodes of Password and The Match Game where Betty was a celebrity guest.


Bea Arthur

Beatrice Arthur was not the creator's first choice for the role of Dorothy. It was Lee Grant. Also, NBC was against casting Arthur. In fact, Arthur herself was leery about accepting the part. It was only after McClanahan explained that she was going to play Blanche and White was going to play Rose that Arthur became interested and accepted the part of Dorothy.

Bea was the only one who wore clip-on earrings. Even so, she claimed her ears were numb at the end of the day. Because of Bea's almost 5-foot-10-inch height, she wore flat shoes in real life and on the show.

Dorothy married Blanche's uncle Lucas and moved out of the house during the finale. Sophia was invited to join her daughter and new son-in-law in Atlanta, Georgia, but she decided to stay behind in the house in Miami with the other women.

That led to the spinoff, The Golden Palace, without Bea. It aired on CBS from September 1992 to May 1993. It was canceled after only one season. After Bea left, the remaining women sold the Miami house and invested in a hotel that was up for sale.

Bea Arthur died of cancer at 86 in 2009.


Estelle Getty

Estelle Gettleman was known professionally as Estelle Getty. She played the part of Sophia who was Dorothy's mother. In real life, Dorothy was older than Sophia. According to the New York Times, Getty was given the role of Sophia after she showed up to the audition looking like “a little old lady.”

Even though Getty played the oldest part, she was not the oldest on the show. Betty White was the oldest. It took Sophia 45 minutes to be made to look much older than she was. She was the least experienced actress. She had horrible stage fright in front of live audiences. Many times she froze on stage during tapings.

Sophia dreaded funeral scenes because she had a phobia about death. She died in 2008 at 84 from Lewy body dementia.


Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on August 17, 2020:

Thanks. I never watched a full episode. I love all these fine fine ladies. I must get around to this.

Cheryl E Preston from Roanoke on August 17, 2020:

One of my favorite television shows.